Twelve things to do in West Hampstead in December

There’s always a (snow) flurry of things to do in December, the challenge is fitting them all in between the socialising and recovering from socialising that seems to define the final few weeks of the year.

We don’t have to credit Tim Mossholder for the image, but we would like to. Seasons greetings Tim!

On Saturday 9th, from 7.30-9.30 pm is the Hampstead Chorus Autumn concert with Gabriel Faure’s Requiem, Francis Poulenc’s Gloria and The Heavens and the Heart by James Francis Brown. They sing at UCS and you can get tickets here.

For something a little lighter, on Thursday 14th at 7.30 pm in Emmanuel Church – and with some audience participation – the Fortune Green choir is holding its concert with a guest appearance from Cantereas (a vocal ensemble based in West Hampstead). It should be a really nice concert, and it is raising money for the Mayor of Camden’s chosen charity – C4WS, the homeless charity that operates out of Emmanuel Church. The Mayor will be attending. The suggested donation is £5 (with mulled wine and mince pies afterwards).

If you’re after something a bit more serious, then on Saturday 16th, the Hampstead Chamber Choir is celebrating a European Christmas, also in Emmanuel Church. Audience participation in the carols here too. Tickets are £12.

Something for the younger residents?

On Saturday 9th at the Community Centre is a holiday gifts workshop. Make a present for granny, she will love it! And who knows your kid might even make it into the John Lewis ad next year…

Then on Wedensday 14th, the ever-popular Sherriff Centre Panto is back. Oh, no it isn’t. Oh, yes it… save me from this please. But it is already fully booked – oh no it isn… yes, yes it is. This year it is Sleeping Beauty.

For the even younger residents, there is a not-very-Christmassy-but-who-cares Baby Broadway concert on Saturday 16th at 11 am in Emmanuel Church. You can get tickets here.

Something a bit more entertaining?

On Monday 11th at West End Lane Books, Nina Stibbe will read from “An Almost Perfect Christmas”. It’s at 7.30 pm and free, but is also a chance to pick up a copy of the book (and pay for it too, obvs). Looks like quite a nice stocking filler/Christmassy present. (Please reserve a place).

The JW3 Icerink opened again on the 3rd and will be open until Sunday, January 7th. It’s closed on Sabbaths but will be open on the 25th and 26th December so something to do on Christmas day or Boxing day to work off the calories. And oddly, it’s sponsored by a … firm of accountants!

On Monday 18th at the Alliance, it’s the Christmas offering from Locally Sourced with actress Annette Badland and an anthology of seasonal delights. She’s a familiar face on TV (and voice on radio – she’s  Hazel on the Archers!) Also appearing will be pianist Kat Gillham and baritone Phil Wilcox, so expect some Christmas melodies. This could be a lot of fun.

With the closure of the Good Ship, things comedic do seem a little thin on the ground in the ‘hood, however, something new(ish) on the radar is the London Improv theatre. They have what looks like some really good events coming up. Starting with… “God, the Untold Story” , on December 5th, 6th and 7th.

I liked the look of the Glenda J collective on Friday 15th, but it’s… you guessed it, sold out.

Also on the bill is Slattery Night Fever on Saturdays December 16th and 23rd. Booking recommended to see one of the original Whose Line is it Anyway greats.

Indeed, there is a whole host of other events including Improv Friday with a double bill of the Inflatables/Music Box. Last time I went, a group of mates sitting next to me had been to celebrate a friend’s birthday and these seem like go-with-a-couple-of-mates kind of things to do.

Finally, it’s not very Christmassy but the current Camden Arts Centre exhibitions are worth seeing both Natalie du Pasquier and Christian Nyampeta. A nice destination for an afternoon walk, and there is a rather good café too!

So there you are good dozen suggestions of things to do this month. We’ll cover the Christmas services separately.

Top Ten things to do in (and around) West Hampstead in August

One of joys of living in London is the wide variety of events (from high to low culture) but how often do you miss them? Yet somehow summer seems more complete if you have one or two of these experiences under your belt to bring some lasting memories. Oh the summer of ’69, the boys of summer, summertime etc.  So here is WHL’s top ten for August 2017!

(And if you are wondering about the order they get further and further away from NW6 (but stay within NW London)).

1. An outdoor film screening? They are on all over London but very locally the Friends of Fortune Green put them on right on our doorstep. Next up ‘Toy Story‘ on Saturday August 12th, which starts at sundown (8:30pm ish). It’s FREE but donations appreciated.

2. The following weekend, on Saturday 19th August. 12 – 7pm. The Friends of Kilburn Grange are organising the Kilburn Grange Festival, it’s less polished than the Jester but it has a raffish charm and a more urban vibe.

3. Which way to the beach? No need to go further than JW3 and the Hampstead Beach – it’s free and there until the 2nd September Sunday to Friday.

Thursday nights have 2-1 cocktails from 5 – 8pm and music; 10th is 60s beach vibes (round, round get around), 17th is 80s pop, 24th is accoustic classics and on the 31st they are going out Jamaican style with reggae rhythms. A private party on the 24th means it won’t be open and they won’t be open on the 31st either.  Sod’s law – forecast for the 24th is quite good and for the 31st as well.  Oh well, there is always the Roundhouse…

Hampstead Beach - actually, West Hampstead Beach! Image: JW3

Hampstead Beach – actually, (ahem) West Hampstead Beach! Image: JW3

A little further afield there are two other beaches; a hip one at the Roundhouse and a family friendly one at Brent Cross .

4. Is it art you are after? On our doorstep there is the Camden Arts Centre currently showing is Daniel Richter  and Jennifer Tee . Both these exhibitions are showing until mid-September with late night opening on Wednesdays. CAC is always (well mostly) worth a visit.

Rather smaller scale is the Kingsgate Project Space. Currently they are showing CATS, its very small with only two works but they are good. Worth a wonder and something for both adults and young kids to enjoy (perhaps on their way to nearby Kilburn Grange). Two works is often enough for the attention span of young kids! The show is open Thursday to Saturday 12 – 6pm and ends on 19 Aug.

5. Music on the cards? The Kingsgate centre (opposite the Kingsgate workshops/project space) are running their monthly Jazz sessions, next up August 31st

Want something more rocky? then on Fridays there is house band at One Bourbon ‘the sound of NW6’ no less. Or it’s the Kilburn Ironworks 3rd birthday coming up on bank holiday weekend (25th and 26th Aug)… there is lots on offer including a resident DJ from 9pm.

For a slightly different vibe (e.g. 70’s original vinyl) Bobby F has a resident DJ on Fridays and Saturdays.

6. You’re having a laugh?  It’s no joke – there is quite a lot of comedy right here in NW6.  Near Finchley Road tube station is the London Improv Theatre which for most of August is taken up by the Camden Fringe.

Reliably good with loads of Edinburgh previews is Good Ship Comedy on Monday nights.  Previews over now and normal service has been resumed. A little further up KHR at the NLT on the last Sunday of the month (but not sure if it will be on Bank Holiday Sunday) is Abigail’s Party, emceed by local Abigail Burdess. I think she will be up in Edinburgh, but her show got a ringing endorsement from this local.

7. A really nice hot summer’s day just isn’t complete without a dip in an outdoor pool. NW London’s favorite is the Hampstead ponds.  Probably one to hold off for a really hot day.  We had them earlier in the summer, so hopefully they will be back… Or there is the Parliament Hill Lido.  And if the water is a bit chilly then a short ride on the Overgound is the (heated) 50m London Fields Lido.

8. Summer just isn’t summer without outdoor theatre.  If you haven’t been, do visit the Globe theatre (OK, OK it isn’t in NW London…) It’s only £5 for a groundling (standing) ticket but top tip (especially if going with others) is to get one cheap seat as well, so you can sit down from time to time, although standing for the whole performance is fine.   Closer to home is …

The Open Air theatre.  (Re) opening next week is a return visit of last summer’s sold out Jesus Christ Superstar.  It opens on August 11th and runs until 23rd Sept.

They also have comedy nights and outdoor film screenings, including Close Encounters of the Third Kind (tickets from £16.50 vs free for Toy Story on Fortune Green, just saying).

What's the Buzz? It's the sold out Jesus Christ Superstar back! Image: Open Air Theatre

What’s the Buzz? It’s the sold out Jesus Christ Superstar back! Image: Open Air Theatre

9.  Before the show (or on any nice day) why not have a picnic in Regent’s Park (actually the Regent’s Park).  You can visit the Queen Mary’s Rose garden, the hidden (St. John’s) garden, the Italian garden or, top tip for this summer, the Frieze sculpture park  until the autumn.  Normally it is installed with the show in October and stays for a few weeks after, this year they have installed it running up to the show.

10. Sticking with cutting edge then Random International’s show at the Roundhouse looks like being worth a visit.  They are working with regular collaborator Wayne McGregor on +-Human. They worked together on Rain Room at the Barbican two years ago, which was excellent.

It’s £5 for the installation alone and £15 (Fridays and Saturdays) for the associated dance performance. The show runs for two weeks from the 11th to the 26th of August.

If any of you manage to do all 10 of these – with photographic proof – then it’s a free pint from WHL at the next Whampgather – and a very memorable summer for you!

( 11. Finally slipping in at number 11 (because it is actually on 2nd September, taking place at Kenwood) is the FT Weekend Festival . I know, I know most of you read the Guardian (and WHL, obvs) but there are also some FT readers in West Hampstead. Actually, it has  a really wide and varied list of participants. Would even appeal to Guardian readers.  It’s £75 a ticket, so not cheap, but another interesting event on our doorstep).